Georgetown spreads over part of Penang’s east coast. It’s the administrative seat of the island, and hotels in Georgetown are the likeliest place for tourists to stay while visiting Penang. Its colonial Esplanade and Chinese and Indian neighborhoods are fascinating places to explore.
Penang is distinct from greater Malaysia. Its international atmosphere is more pronounced, and there are many more Chinese than ethnic Malays living here. It ranks with Malacca when it comes to historical character, and it’s proximity to Thailand means it’s a popular side trip from both Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur.
Travelers can hire a trishaw and explore the tip of the Georgetown peninsula. Chinatown and Little India are next-door to each other, with sites including Kuan Yin Teng, Penang Chinese Town Hall and St George’s Church all in the same vicinity. Further out, but still in the same area, is Khoo Kongsi clan house, with its intricate Chinese carvings. Other grand structures in the area are Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion and Pinang Peranakan Mansion.
The cultural dynamic of Penang is unique. In addition to its Chinese- and Indian-style temples and colonial churches, it also has a Thai-Buddhist temple, Wat Chaiya Mangkalaram. For an overview of local history and culture, head to the Penang Museum, near Georgetown’s founding point at Fort Cornwallis.
The city has countless hotels, and they cater mainly to international tourists intrigued by the city’s recent inscription as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Accommodation in Georgetown includes cozy inns in heritage buildings and lavish five-star giants. The biggest hotels are in reach of KOMTAR, Prangin Mall, Penang Time Square and other shopping centers. An even greater selection is on Jalan Sultan Ahmad Shah, near New World Park theme park.
Penang is well connected to the rest of Southeast Asia. Ferries from Langkawi, Medan and Butterworth land at the ferry terminals off of Pengkalan Weld. Tanjung City Marina, Penang Yacht Club and Chew’s Jetty are also here welcoming yachters on holiday. It's possible to take an overnight train from here to both Singapore and Bangkok, making it a popular destination for visa trips.